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THE DESERT GUARDIAN                   25
Mesopotamia in the east to the Second Nile Cataract of Nubia in the south; he overcame the Bedouins of Lybia in the west, while bearded Ethiopians brought him the promised costly presents. Under him Egypt became immensely rich, both toiling peasants and idling princes were prosperous; its civilization and culture flourished as never before. The predicted glories came magnificently true.
All this is not hearsay but history, not legend but living fact, for the Egyptians kept more careful records than any other nation of antiquity, while many of those records, being deeply inscribed on hard stone, will outlive those on paper and parchment.
Nor was this the only time when a man has been moved to free the Sphinx.
Seven times have the ever-active sands buried the Sphinx; seven times has it been freed.
This, in historic times only, for the men of pre-history possessed a reverent regard for this image which caused them to protect its body with devoted care.
It was first excavated more than five thousand years ago by Khafra, a Fourth Dynasty Pharaoh who turned the Second Pyramid into a tomb to hold his granite sarcophagus. Less than two thousand years afterwards came the second effort to rescue the Sphinx from the sands, that of Thothmes IV, whose famous dream induced him to undertake the task. He even tried to protect it against future invasions by building a crude unburnt orick wall around it to act as a barrier.
To-day you may observe these bricks, some of which are still stamped with the King's prenomen. But once again the sand crept in and took possession of the stone giant, and this time it was an alien king, the philosophic Roman ruler Marcus Aurelius, who, finding the Sphinx buried up to the neck, extricated it once more. The slabbed masonry of the paws and underneath the chest, not being cut from rock as was the main body and head, had fallen into a ruinous state, and the king thoughtfully repaired that too, while parts where he restored the brick-girdled walls still stand out by their black colouring against a grey background. .
Under the Arabs, naturally, the Sphinx was completely neglected again, until only the weary greyish-white face showed